Messages are text best thing
NHS scheme gets seal of approval
An innovative NHS Lanarkshire text messaging service run throughout Monklands has been hailed as a “massive success”.
The health board’s ‘ Florence’ programme sees patients aged 16 and over equipped and taught how to self-monitor details such as weight and blood pressure.
The patient then texts the details to an automated system which has been programmed by specialist nurses with their specific health details.
A shining example of the difference the service is making to people’s lives is jet-setting businessman Graham Murray.
Graham was diagnosed with heart failure a year ago but has been able to continue his global travels as part of an international IT trouble-shooting operation serving major clients in Europe, America and Asia thanks to the text message system.
The 57-year-old said: “Life, between family and work, is extremely busy — and I love every aspect of it.
“Last year, however, while working in England, I felt like I was coming down with heavy cold, with symptoms including breathing difficulty.
“As the symptoms worsened, and after hospital checks, it was discovered that I had fluid on my lungs.
“The root cause was a narrowing of the arteries to the heart which meant it wasn’t pumping blood as effectively as it should.
“I was diagnosed as having heart failure, but when I learned I wasn’t going to die the next day I just wanted to crack on with things.
“After initial hospital treatment last year I was advised I required weekly checks, including blood pressure and weight.
“Florence was offered as an alternative, which is obviously far more conducive to my working life.
“I see the system as a safety blanket and an international lifeline, all in one. I know it’s there and I can get on with my life.”
Florence sends patients text message replies with advice and information like medication reminders, all based on their latest readings.
Crucially, the system can identify flare-ups at the earliest stage and if any anomalies are detected within the readings, like a rise or drop in blood pressure, an automated alert is sent to the patient and specialist nurse, allowing them to respond to offer advice or help by phone, text or medical assistance.
The tech-savvy scheme is part of the European- wide initiative United4Health, which is geared to using new technology to improve healthcare and sees NHS Lanarkshire team up with key partners at North and South Lanarkshire Council.
Janice Hewitt, chief accountable officer for North Lanarkshire Health and Social Care, said: “This initiative ensures people get the right advice and support in the right place at the right time.
“Modern technology is increasingly being used in every walk of life and this case demonstrates how we are harnessing it to complement existing resources.”
Morag Hearty, of NHS Lanarkshire’s United4Health programme, added: “This is just one of a raft of systems being introduced to get patients more involved in custom designed, personalised healthcare which can only increase independent living.”
To find out more about the Florence system, email Morag on United4. HealthProject@ lanarkshire. scot. nhs.uk.
On his travels Graham during trip to Vietnam